Review: “Avengers: Infinity War:” Marvel’s Crowning Gem…or Infinity Stone

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“Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of ten years of movies. (COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES)

By MARYANNA ANTOLDI

It’s finally here. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) inception in 2008, fans have embraced 19 films worth of superheroes beginning with “Iron Man” and continuing all the way to “Black Panther.” But each film, each character journey thus far has led to this very moment: a cosmic threat so dangerous, so life-threatening that it would take every single hero banding together to stop it. This isn’t your average Marvel movie. This is the climax. This is “Avengers: Infinity War.” And was it worth the wait? Yes. Yes, it was.

We all know what to expect from Marvel by now: an action-packed film with convincing, genuinely lovable heroes and wit — lots of wit. But “Infinity War,” directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is Marvel to the nth degree, the studio playing its best cards to make you laugh, cry and gasp over and over again. The characters everyone learned to love are now at risk, and each and every one of them is tested to their very limits. The result is emotion at every corner, because for once there’s a very plausible chance that the heroes may not actually make it out of this one alive.

But who could be so powerful that he could stop an army of superheroes? The answer is Thanos (Josh Brolin), one of Marvel’s greatest villains. This deep-voiced, purple intergalactic adversary is out to harness the power of the Infinity Stones — six powerful gems introduced throughout the MCU films — in order to “balance” the universe. In other words, he wants to wipe out half the population in the galaxy. And, once he finds all of the stones, he can do so with just the snap of his fingers.

Despite his daunting appearance, Thanos’ motivation is just as flat as most of the villains that came before him, touting the age-old mantra of wanting to fix the universe of its ills. What makes this antagonist so terrifying is his power. Whenever Brolin appears on screen, he commands it with only a handful of lines in each scene. While he does make his henchmen perform most of his dirty work, his appearances demand attention, everyone stilling to see just what he destroys next. He is powerful, unpredictable and captivating — just as any good villain should be.

And with a villain of this size, both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy must unite to stop him. The sheer volume of this cast (with 76 characters in total) is intimidating for moviemakers and audience members alike. But, surprisingly, no scene feels overcrowded. “Infinity War” divides characters tactfully into groups with several subplots, flipping back and forth to them like episodes of different television programs. One moment you are with Thor in outer space, and the next you are following Captain America and Black Panther in Wakanda. It’s the smartest method to tackle such a massive project, and it was executed in the best way possible.

Compared to previous Avengers flicks, “Infinity War” moves incredibly fast, with action and dialogue jam-packed into every moment. There are no breathers in this film. The Russo Brothers craft every scene with a specific purpose in mind; however, at times, the pace was overwhelming. With so many overlapping plotlines, it occasionally proved difficult to keep track of the story and absorb everything occurring in an action sequence. The only way to truly comprehend everything in this film would be to see it a second time.

However, the clear stars of the film were some of Marvel’s newest: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and the entire crew of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Whenever these characters land on screen, they result in the greatest moments of the film. Doctor Strange’s solo film was not a stand-out in the MCU. However, his character is integral to this film, and Cumberbatch’s performance is simply excellent, showing just how much the character is capable of to anyone who thought otherwise. His glyphs and wizardry are spot-on, also functioning as some of the coolest CGI effects in the entire movie.  

Holland himself is also one to watch. While his character falls into the middle of the pack, it is his innocent sense of humor and heroic drive that make him stand out. The Guardians, on the other hand, were always excellent, witty characters. However, now we see them shine. They are responsible for both the loudest gasps and the biggest belly laughs, seamlessly fitting their humor into the severity of the film. But, their raw, emotional moments are the ones crucial to the film, and they deliver those as well with flying colors. If anything, this film proves that Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Co. are not a group to be messed with. They are the whole package. 

The reason all these characters work in such a convoluted, chaotic movie is simple: we relate to them.This is the film where audiences are able to see their heroes stripped down to their very core, revealing they are exactly the same as us. The emotion in this film is unparalleled. The weight of the universe rests on the shoulders of one group of extraordinary individuals, and as a result of this we see their fear — sheer terror even — of losing. Losing the war, losing their loved ones, losing their own lives. Underneath the superpowers are people who just want to do good for others. And when the moment arises when they may not be able to fulfill that need to the world, they are emotionally bare. We see them for who they really are: just as human as the audience members themselves.  

So, with this incredible amount of character development packed into a nearly three-hour blockbuster, “Avengers: Infinity War” is one of Marvel’s most profound. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, with twists and turns at every corner that keep you guessing — even after its final scene. The only downside? The conclusion. I would have happily sat through two more hours to see what happens next. But, for now, I’m stuck theorizing just like everyone else.